The Signature Lounge at the 96th Floor of the John Hancock Center December 20, 2009
The view of the downtown Chicago skyline from the John Hancock Center is breathtaking. If you go to the observatory, I believe it costs about $20. You do get the full view from around the whole building, but for about the same, it’s more fun to have cocktails and treats at the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the Hancock Center. KM and I went just before sunset at it was the perfect timing.
If you liked the bathroom at the Palm Court at the Drake, the ones here are not to be missed. The picture is kinda crappy (no pun intended) but you can see that it probably has the best view of any bathroom.
Christmas Afternoon Tea at the Drake Hotel December 18, 2009
Every year KM and I do afternoon tea at Christmastime. We have been to all of the Chicago formal tea hotspots and the Drake is the best . We hadn’t been there in a few years and decided to revisit.
One of the best parts of tea at the Drake is the atmosphere. It is very traditional and fancy. It looks like they have redecorated since we were there last.
A harp player in a stunning silver dress played Christmas tunes. There were also carolers that roamed from table to table to sing to you. They looked like they had stepped out of a Dickens’ novel, one of the nicer parts.
The tea was delicious. I had the Orange Dulce which was very sweet and caramely (or that may have just been the lump of sugar and cream I added to each cup). KM had a very crisp White Jasmine.
The tea came with a three-tiered serving of treats. The top plate had scones and banana bread. The scones came with a yummy lemon curd and strawberry jam (sadly, no cream-maybe for the best…) There were roast beef , cucumber and tomato, egg salad, and asparagus and ham sandwiches on the second tier. Last but not least, two strawberry tarts, a mini-cinnamon cream puff, and a pastry of undetermined origin. As far as all of the afternoon teas we have sampled, this one is the most substantial.
The service is the best. They are attentive but not obtrusive; perfect for gossipy chats over tea.
The bathrooms at the Palm Court at the Drake are considered some of the nicest (in the city, in the country, in the world, I don’t know). I’m not sure what the people who decide these things are looking for, but in case you haven’t seen them and were interested…now you have.
I find the Christmas tree more appealing, but that’s just me.
Wonderland Express at the Chicago Botanic Garden December 17, 2009
This year we finally went to the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Wonderland Express. GW liked the trains while I liked the replicas of famous Chicago landmarks.
Kolacz Weselny – Polish Wedding Cake December 12, 2009
Kolacz Weselny – Polish Wedding Cake
For most , Thanksgiving is a time for gathering with family and friends. For me, it is the time for forcing experimental desserts upon them. JE always brings several lovely pies, so, even if I totally screw up my dessert, there will still be delicious sweets to consume as well as something to laugh at (my failed dessert!). Past failures include a Frango Mint Cheesecake that I threw upside down on the table in an attempt to get it out of the pan. Last year I made cream puffs shaped like turkeys. The hard part, making turkey shaped puffs, turned out to be easy. The plan was to fill them with chocolate whipped cream. I decided to add some alcohol. I think it may have been Bailey’s or Kahlua; because, what is more fun than chocolate whipped cream except chocolate whipped cream with alcohol? So, the cream didn’t set and the poor turkeys were drowning in brown soup (alcoholic brown soup).
This year I made Polish Wedding Cake. It is a sweet soft bread filled with sweet cheese. This was my first attempt at a decorated bread. I braided three ropes together and wound two rows around the edge of the cake. Then, I made the “turkey” in parts and placed it on the cake by brushing on milk as a glue. I noticed that the accents that seemed distinct before baking seemed to meld together as it cooked. As far as the taste, it was good. I would make it again as a breakfast/brunch bread, but not as a celebration cake. I thought it might have been improved by adding a layer of fruit, maybe a strawberry preserve or cherry pie filling. One note on construction, I found that the two layers surrounding the cheese needed to be pinched together so the cheese would not escape (sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale).